The connections life can throw your way are amazing. Between blogging and gay rights activism, I meet some incredible people. Yesterday I met contributor Mara Keisling for the first time face-to-face and, truly, have you ever really met someone just over the phone and e-mail? She completely exceeded my expectations and I can't wait for her to start sharing her experiences with you here on the site. (Which, by the way, she apologized for not posting yet, and promised something soon. After all, she did just travel to Indianapolis from Washington, DC! Ah, the care-free life of a transgender activist, eh? *grins*)
Mara, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, is in town as a guest of INTRAA, the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance. (If you're a regular reader, you'll remember that fellow contributor Bruce Parker works closely with INTRAA and that they've been heavily involved in the struggle for LGBT rights in Indiana. That's Bruce, Mara and I in the picture. Click to embiggen.) Advance Indiana blogger Gary Welsh met with Mara right after I did and he has a great post up about the exciting event that INTRAA is hosting tonight and his meeting with Mara. Be sure to check it out.
Since Gary thoroughly covered the who, what, when and where's, I thought I'd go back to the "connections" angle. It's always fascinating to see where life brings you and how it gets you there, isn't it? Think about this for a second:
- Bilerico started as an Indiana blog about LGBT issues.
- Contributor Marti Abernathey and I have been friends, allies and antagonists for years on a local mailing list and have worked side-by-side on various issues.
- At one point, I recorded an interview with Lane Hudson that I never actually turned into a podcast after SJR-7 came back with a vengeance.
- Mike Rogers and I started e-mailing back and forth over a couple of other stories we ran on the site.
- We decided to go with the new format and Mike, Marti and Lane signed on board.
- Bruce and I were talking one day about INTRAA and the re-launch of the blog when he told me that Mara Kiesling was coming to Indianapolis and maybe she could guest post while she was in town. I was able to tell him Mara had agreed to blog at The Bilerico Project about an hour before he'd called me.
- Mike, Lane and Mara all live in about a one block radius.
- Mara and Marti already know each other through trans organizing.
This just leaves out of course, that Mara also knows contributors Joe Solmonese and Matt Foreman professionally and specifically mentioned Michael Crawford too. It also should be said that Bruce and Marti know each other through trans organizing and Bruce and I have a history together in activism and as friends. Or, for that matter, the many connections between several of our other contributors. (Hint for all those contributors that already know each other - I hope to see some of those stories on the blog soon! Sometimes looking back can be just as enjoyable as looking forward!) Which begs to me to ask the question, in a community as diverse and unique as our own, isn't it interesting how many different personalities you encounter and absolutely fascinating what impact those personalities have on you personally and the movement in general? Imagine if our movement was dominated by Karl Rove-types and Dick Cheney-bots. Go ahead, imagine it for a second. What if our organizing styles were more authoritarian and dictorial?
I've met a lot of remarkably intelligent and spellbinding folks through LGBT activism and bilerico.com. It never ceases to amaze me how intertwined we already are as a community. Someone has the connection over here while someone else knows someone different that can do something else. Slowly the network builds - a network to achieve civil rights for our people and to attempt to make things just a little better for the community than when we found it.
It's a laudable goal. With connections like this, if anyone can make it happen - we can.